IDLES + LICE + PEOPLE AND OTHER DISEASES | LIVE REVIEW
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Wed 5 Apr
While misery loves company, misanthropy doesn’t – but the charmingly named People And Other Diseases have nevertheless drawn plenty of punters down early. The Swansea trio’s muscular, demonic boogie doesn’t really do justice to that moniker, but you have to applaud an outfit who, in attempting to raise funds to release an album, have eschewed going down the crowdfunding route in favour of flogging “sick Birds Of A Feather merchandise”.
Lice, meanwhile, are flying the flag for Bristol and freak punk. Bassist Gareth is clearly a fan of The Birthday Party’s Tracy Pew, both in terms of playing style and louche cowboy look, while guitarist Silas contributes twitchy, jazzy, jarring noise. Like their namesakes, though, Lice start out as a talking point but gradually become rather annoying in their persistence. At least, as scrawny vocalist Alastair observes, he and his bare-chested bandmates are doing their bit to promote realistic male body images.
“I just wasn’t made for these times,” lamented Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds. The same most definitely couldn’t be said of Idles, whose violent, incandescently angry, uber-sarcastic punk appears to have been precision-engineered for our chaotic, rancid, post-Brexit/post-Trump world. In interviews, the band have claimed that, on the contrary, it’s the times that have caught up with them – somewhat disingenuous, given that five years ago they sounded like Interpol. Needless to say, that early material has been swept under the carpet, but Joe Talbot’s constant gobbing into the air comes to seem like the behaviour of someone self-consciously playing at being a punk.
Stacked up against their contemporaries, Idles are neither quite as fast and furious as early Iceage, nor quite as feral as Fat White Family, nor quite as lyrically dexterous and inventive as Sleaford Mods. And seeing them here in Clwb, on Future Of The Left’s home turf, feels a bit “coals to Newcastle”; you suspect Andy Falkous’ response to all the hype surrounding debut LP Brutalism would be one of bemusement.
And yet it’s virtually impossible to take issue with a band that have a sold-out crowd literally hanging from the rafters from the off; that boast a blistering intensity many others can only dream of; that possess a guitarist who performs the entire set in his pants; and that have a vocalist who churns out memorable line after memorable line (“Even Mary Berry loves reggae”, anyone?) and who, at the climax of Rottweiler (a song about the tabloid press) orchestrates the conversion of the moshpit into a “wall of hugs”. As ambassadors for peace, love and understanding go, IDLES are certainly unorthodox.
words BEN WOOLHEAD